Mono no aware

Tuesday, 7 March 2017 14:35
songofcopper: (montesquiou by doucet)
Hello. Herein, a potpourri of petals.

Attempts at preserving the transient come in many forms. Some people take photographs. Some make jam. My instinctive preference is to write things down.

The other day, mine eye landed upon something so ideally symbolic of DECADENCE that I had to record the encounter in my Büchlein.

Decadent object )

People, phones… What am I carping for? Is it really any worse than troops of Victorians sketching everything in sight? As for loathing textspeak ’n’ sexting, just take a look at the postcard section of your local antiques market. Often these ephemeral curiosities feature saucy cartoons, portraits of Noted Beauties, photos of underdressed actresses or athletes. The messages are frequently cryptic love notes and tryst set-ups, and can be signed in secret ways - initials, pet-names (‘Your Sweetheart Always’), or just ‘from You-Know-Who’.

The throwaway stuff that seems not to matter, or that actively irritates us, generally turns out to be the most interesting and useful to historians. Aren’t you glad that people wrote on walls in Pompeii? And yet, you’d probably be cross if some present-day autographer tagged the front of your house. Graffiti: an interesting area to ponder. For example, how do you feel about government-approved areas set aside for street art? Can anything that is placed there have the same sensibility and significance as art that is made guerilla-fashion/wherever the maker wants/illegally? And again, what about transience? Once an item of street art has arrived upon a surface, are we to guard and preserve it, or is it fair game for rival artists, municipal street cleaners, vandals?

How long must something survive ‘against the odds’ before it becomes precious heritage?


Will there one day be a way to ‘collect’ digital ephemera? Captured in some kind of storage media, equivalent to an album? Or will we fish for it virtually, dipping a notional jar into long-forgotten isolated internet ponds whose connexion to the larger ocean long since silted up?

The way digital information looks is highly dependent on the software we are using. Will it be someone’s job some day to recreate ancient lost fonts? Simulate antiquated browsers?

My curiosity about this is brought about partly by current reading-matter.

Photo of two books: The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon and Hadrian the Seventh by Fr. Rolfe

Snippets )

AND FINALLY, here’s a notebook with a macabre history - and, well, yes, it’s another joyous local news headline: ‘Wallpaper which killed Napoleon Bonaparte on sale in Exeter.’

Don’t get too excited, folks. We are not talking rolls of the stuff on special offer at Homebase. It’s simply that a local auction house is offering for sale a scrapbook cover, which is alleged to have been made from Napoleon’s famously-arsenical bedroom wallpaper.

After Hitler’s phone and Napoleon’s wallpaper, whatever can be next?! My prediction shall be… Bismarck’s moustache-trimmings. Watch this space, collectors.


Ooh, finally-finally, I have pretty much always referred to Wikipedia as ‘Vicipaedia’, but it wasn’t until the other day that I learned that the Latin language edition of Wikipedia is really truly actually called Vicipaedia! Accidental-correct-guess-success, baby. Yeah.
songofcopper: (montesquiou by doucet)
I’m such a contrarian. This is 2017, the world is screaming, laughing, spinning outta control, and yet now, most inappropriately, I seem to have fallen back in love with life.

I think I knew I was going to be ok when I opened one of David’s Christmas presents to me: a book about British galls. I spent most of Christmas Day reading it and getting excited about Spring, when we can go on a proper gall hunt together.

Rightful Inhabitants )

The culture has mined a new depth of decadence: you can now buy bottles of molten iceberg water from Harrods, £80 a pop.

Had it been available to him, our old pal Des Esseintes would probably have ordered in gallons of this stuff, probably for the purpose of bathing in it, followed by an acute and prolonged attack of guilt. Guilt, I think, is the most expensive luxury of all - for those with any residue of good taste. For those for whom ‘taste’ is just a thing Coca Cola has, a brazen lack of guilt is preferred: think of those shameless big game hunters who pose for grinning selfies next to dead elephants.

Yes, guilt is an emotional tax that some of us pay in return for doing wretched things. Some people, however, are temperamentally tax-evasive.


Yesterday the David and I went record-shopping and I bought one! I got this:


“X” by Klaus Schulze. This is one of my favourites. Mostly because of its side-length piece called ‘Ludwig II. von Bayern’.

Glorious Anachronistic Muddle )


Some current reading matter - a curious thing indeed:

Tenebrae by Ernest G. Henham.

Jealousy! Murder! Arachnophobia! )


Monday, 2 March 2015 17:29
songofcopper: (Tea is the drink of great detectives! :-)
The other day (in Another Place) I agreed to play a game of poetical tag: submit 3 - 5 prompt words, and receive a poem containing those words. If you wished you could also receive 3 - 5 prompt words in order to return the gesture. Of course I agreed to 'pome', and I received these prompt words: violet, flourish, cloud, unrequited, entwine.

Recently I happened upon the preposterous poetry of Comte Robert de Montesquiou. Honestly, it's... indescribable. Luckily for me, I found a few verses translated into English; if only my French was up to it I'd try reading the original creations. But if you read French with a reasonable fluency, if you like Ludwig II and bats and ridiculousness, if you are willing to bite your tongue/swallow your giggles whilst kneeling reverently at the daintily-shod feet of le Comte, well... it's worth your attention. Anyway, what little I read delighted me severely.

I cannot write like that, not really (despite all, I'm far too sane). But I could not look at those prompt words - violet, flourish, cloud, unrequited, entwine - without feeling the Decadent Lightbulb ping on ( it a lightbulb? Perhaps not; it may be something more like a moon reflected in the articulated opalescent glass drops which depend, shivering, from a lustre that glows on the mantelpiece, the hanging crystals agitated by the passing sweep of one's cape. ...Yeah, it's probably that, innit?).

Therefore, I have made my poem self-consciously ornate (so, no change there! Any excuse, right?). I think perhaps I'll let the Archduke steal it, he was after all spurned once by a callous harpy who so wounded his heart that he ran away to Helsinki and lived incognito in a fisherman's hut for about two days. (Two. Days.)

Please imagine him lying, trembling, on a rustic cot, glaring through his tears at an Odilon Redon print that is hanging against the rough woodwork of that hut.

Now Read On. :-)

Crepuscular descends the violet hour
Whose tint pollutes the rosy hope of day.
Her note: ‘Cher ami, veuillez patienter’;
Not patient but becalmed, sickly I cow’r.
Rise, Bile; choke, burn my heart; flourish, Decay!
Like Sun’s eye dimmed in cloud, mine eyes now lour:
Devotion unrequited waxes sour,
No more to her vile image will I pray!
Night’s leash is short; I dangle on that chain
Whose tether’s end is Dawn, and must resign
Myself to slavery. Accept this pain,
Thou humble thrall; drink, addict, of this wine
Meted so sparingly by her. In vain
Dost thou deny thy joy with angst entwine.

© MMFH 2nd March 2015
songofcopper: (Yay!  Blackadder!)
Decadence is ever en train, chez moi. The other day, a day otherwise untroubled by anything more strenuous than a romp through the thesaurus, I went outside and discovered something foul and rank. (Please, if you are of a sensitive disposition, consider that your final warning.) The drain that leads to the septic tank was overflowing with feculent effluent (…try saying that sixty-two times after a stiff measure of Demerara rum). I was forced to phone the drain-unblockers (is there a one-word title for such pioneers?), who eventually turned up and dealt with the matter (taking most of it away in buckets). To add to the general air of excess and decay, I was charged £145 for the privilege of allowing my friendly local drain-unblocker to rid me of my unwanted gardenful of filth. I daresay a true decadent would have composed an elegy right there in the midst of this avalanche of overpriced shit, but I'm afraid words failed me just at that moment. (I did, however, manage to sluice the patio with disinfectant after the drain-unblocker had fled, clutching my big fat cheque in his mucky paws.)

I can only look to my betters to encapsulate the emotion that swelled through my quivering person in response to this unplanned diurnal upsurge of the night-soil that most properly belongs to the crepuscular churnings of the underworld.

Herewith, a song that I cannot hear without feeling it is essentially an exercise in extended sarcasm. Its title is 'O ravishing delight' (which is almost exactly what I exclaimed when I first laid eyes upon that ordure-ruined patio). The composer is Daniel Purcell, a relation of the more famous Henry of that ilk. The librettist, meanwhile, is William Congreve (it's from 'The Judgement of Paris', and it's the eponymous abductor of fit birds who sings this aria. Incidentally, I learn from Wikipedia that Daniel P. won third prize with his version in a contest to judge the best setting of the masque).

Here are the lyrics - and very delightful they are too.

O Ravishing Delight!
What Mortal can support the Sight?
Alas! too weak is Human Brain,
So much Rapture to Sustain.
I faint, I fall! O take me hence,
Ere Ecstasie invades my aking Sense:
Help me, Hermes, or I dye,
Save me from Excess of Joy.

I cannot find on YouTube the recording I have here at home, in which one Ryland Angel makes mincemeat of those Baroque twiddles that are so beloved of the counter-tenor in full chirp. Instead, have Alfred Deller's rendition.

When the line about Hermes is reached, I can't help but mistake the word for 'Homies'. "Help me, Homies, or I die" - it could be a line from any gangsta rapper's violent soliloquy! It makes me to wonder what other Baroque gems might appeal to the modern-day purveyor of 'urban' music, looking to relieve his or her ennui with something fresh (or indeed, a retread of something so antique as to be freshly novel). Therefore, I propose a new musical genre: HIP-FOP. You know what I'm saying: let's have that unutterable nightingale Iestyn Davies guesting as relief-vocalist on some edgy joint. (Maybe he can soothe the supplanted Beyoncé's jealousy afterwards by teaching her a spot of Handel.) And oh yes, let's rope in Andre 3000 (a dapper dan indeed) - he'd enjoy some eighteenth century costumes, I'm sure…

…No? You don't think this is a good idea? Oh. …I rather fear contemporary culture is not young Cosmé's strong point. Never mind - I'll drag my anachronautick corpse out of the spotlight, I think, and get on with a bit more scribbling. Now, where did I put that thesaurus…?

Salvador Volatile

Tuesday, 2 April 2013 15:06
songofcopper: (Dalí)
Today I finished reading Norman Douglas's 'South Wind', and I am very sorry indeed to say goodbye to it! It is definitely one of those stories I wish I could have written, and there are not too many of those. The place (the isle of Nepenthe, which is sort of Capri in disguise) and the people, too, will stay with me. Mr Keith, you can show me your cannas (the scented or the unscented ones) any time, you dear man. :-) (Mr Keith could not, I think, join the ranks of 'fictional characters the Emy could marry' - really there is only Professor Fen, or perhaps Charlie Mortdecai - but he goes straight to the top of the list marked 'Potential Wicked Uncles'.)

The natural sequel to this would be 'Vestal Fire' by Compton Mackenzie - published ten years later, treating on more expatriate adventures on that shore. I do very much want to read that, but not yet, I think. Here I will perhaps invoke a prandial metaphor - "time for a palate-cleanser, a sorbet" - but you know what, 'South Wind' is a sorbet, a dainty delicacy. Ah me, yes, 'herbaceous in character' (that phrase again - I seem to want to say it daily!).

Well, anyway, what I mean is, you can't follow a sorbet with more sorbet, so I'm thinking it is time for something carnivorous. Funeral Baked Meats - om nom nom! ;-) Now, it is hard for me to enjoy anything without finding it slightly ridiculous, and when someone manages to be floridly carnivorous they had better be ridiculous too, or really, what's the point? With the above in mind, I've plotted out a route straight into a Black Forest filled with Venus Flytraps. (Yeehaw, have at it, Dr Freud!!)

Libertines taking Liberties in Libraries )


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This journal is not a private diary, it is more like an occasional, imaginary column. Therefore, much of it is on public display. However, if you want to read my occasional attempts at creative writing, my Caution Elf tells me I should only show that stuff to my friends. You know what to do. :-)

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